Oral History Archive - Projects
Journey Wall

The Journey Wall is a custom art installation created for MOCA's lobby by renowned artist/designer Maya Lin. The wall is composed of bronze tiles through which Chinese Americans can permanently honor and remember their family roots. Each tile bears the name of an individual or family, their ancestral home, and current place of residence in America. The complete wall will highlight the expansiveness of the Chinese American Diaspora and the diversity of immigration stories from across the country - from artists to businessmen. The interviews in this collection are the stories of the Chinese American families that are part of the Journey Wall installation.

Number of interviews: 42

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2016.033.004 The Family Journey of The Lui Family

In this interview with MOCA, four siblings from the Lui Family sit down to discuss their childhood in early 20th century Chinatown. Sisters, Effie and Fannie, begin with a description of their family members and their life in a tenement apartment. They also explain the root of their Christian faith and the role of ministers as community social workers. The sisters then examine the tensions between the Chinese and Italians in the neighborhood and the development of their Chinese American identity. Brothers, Harold and Ronald, then describe their parents’ immigration experience and their siblings’ educations. They also further discuss the importance of the Church in their lives and the challenge of paper son identities. The four siblings ultimately join to discuss the effect on World War II on their family and the conflicts between their Chinese identity and strong Christian faith. They close the interview with a discussion of the importance of family and faith in leaving behind value and a legacy.

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2016.033.005 The Family Journey of Chin Family

Edward Chin used to be the son of Sun Sing Theatre owner, an engineer, and a lawyer. Now, he enjoys his retirement and travels around the world to play golf with his friends. In this interview, Chin discusses his father’s movie business, family history about the paper son, his schooling experience, careers in law firms, ethnic identity, and thoughts about racism.

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2016.033.006 The Family Journey of The Kung Family

Various members of the Kung family recount their journey to the US and how they adapted to American culture. They further explore the changes in the Chinese community from when they first arrived to current day.

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2016.033.007 The Family Journey of The Yao Family

Tina Yao & William Yao talk about their immigration life experience, their family tradition and the cultural legacy they want to leave to their offspring. William Yao talks about his childhood in Shanghai, his father who worked in the silk business died of a stroke when he was young. Although three of her five children lived with her brother it was still hard for William mother to raise her children, financially. After WWII William went to the Shanghai provincial State High School, later he left Shanghai to look for a job. His mother’s brother asked him if wanted to come to New York through his newspaper company. His first job had bad pay and that’s when he applied to Pan Am, where he stayed. Later on when his children were growing up they went and lived in Flushing, which was convenient, had mahjong and Chinese food places. His wife Tina Yao lately joins his oral history.

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2017.041.001 The Family Journey of Victor Chen

Victor Chen is a writer. In this interview, he discusses how his family came to America and settled in New York in 1949; his education on the Upper West Side, in boarding school, and at university; and his work at The New Yorker in the 1970s. He also mentions his books, which tell how he has been led to believe in a number of fictions and myths in history. (His doctor says that the shakiness of his body in this interview may be a side effect of his medication.)

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2017.041.002 The Family Journey of John and Tina Yuan

In this interview, Tina and John Yuan share the journey of their families from China to Taiwan, where they were born, to the US, where they met and built their own family. They mention their parents’ experiences in China, their early childhood in Taiwan, culture shocks when migrating to the US during the 1970s, adolescent school years, the encounters of Chinese communities, and fostering their son as a Chinese American.

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2017.041.003 The Family Journey of the Wong Family

In this interview, Wong family representatives, David, Nancy, and their mother discuss about their early lives in Colorado, movement to California and LA, Lives in San Francisco between school and their grocery store, family history about paper sons. This interview was conducted in English with few conversations in Toishanese.

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2017.041.004 The Family Journey of the SyCip Family

Washington SyCip recounts his experience enlisting in the US military during World War II. He goes on to talk about incarceration of his father during the Japanese occupation and how he helped his father rebuild after the war. He goes on to talk about how he began to establish his own accounting firm and finally discusses his home life in the US and Manilla. His son George also chimes in to discuss incidents of discrimination growing up and in the business world.

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2017.041.005 The Family Journey of Sau-Wing and Jean L. Lam

Eva Lam (daughter of Sau Wing and Jean) talks about the life in Shanghai of her parents before coming to the US. She further discusses her experience as well as her parents in the US. Her father was a violinist as well as a collector. As a result, she recounts her families love of music and talks about her father’s violin collection.

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2017.041.006 The Family Journey of Glenn Lau Kee

Lawyer Glenn Lau-Kee, Attorney at Kee & Lau-Kee, one of Chinatown oldest law firms, which his father founded in 1956, MOCA Sixth Annual Celebration of Community Heroes honoree, talks about his life growing up in New York. He talks about being sent to boarding school as a child and going to Yale to study law. He goes on to talk about the changing Chinese American community in New York; specifically discussing the role of Manhattan Chinatown. He ends by discussing his hope of more Asian Americans working as public officials.

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